3step zen

Zazen Checklist
Chants & Verses
Zen Mindfulness

Chants and Verses


Four Vows (chanted after the last zazen period of the day)

Numberless beings, I vow to serve them.
Inexhaustible delusions, I vow to end them.
Boundless Dharmas, I vow to practice them.
Unsurpassable Buddha Way, I vow to embody it.


Meal Gatha

Let us reflect on the efforts that brought us this food
And consider how it comes to us.
Reflect on our virtue and practice, and whether we are worthy of this offering.
Regard greed as the obstacle to freedom of mind.
Regard this meal as medicine to sustain our life.
For the sake of enlightenment, we now receive this food.
First, this food is for the Three Treasures;
Second, it is for our teachers, parents, community and all beings everywhere.
Third, it is for all beings in the six realms.
Thus, we eat this food with everyone.
We eat to stop all evil
To practice good;
To liberate all beings;
And to accomplish the Buddha Way.


The Heart of the Perfection of Great Wisdom Sutra

Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva, doing deep prajna paramita,
Clearly saw emptiness of all the five conditions,
Thus completely relieving misfortune and pain.
O Shariputra, form is no other than emptiness, emptiness no other than form;
Form is exactly emptiness, emptiness exactly form;
Sensation, conception, discrimination, awareness are likewise like this.
O Shariputra, all dharmas are forms of emptiness, not born, not destroyed;
Not stained, not pure, without loss, without gain;
So in emptiness there is no form, no sensation, conception, discrimination, awareness;
No eye, ear, nose, tongue, body, mind;
No color, sound, smell, taste, touch, phenomena;
No realm of sight . . . no realm of consciousness;
No ignorance and no end to ignorance . . .
No old age and death, and no end to old age and death;
No suffering, no cause of suffering, no extinguishing, no path;
No wisdom and no gain. No gain and thus
The bodhisattva lives prajna paramita
With no hindrance in the mind, no hindrance, therefore no fear,
Far beyond deluded thoughts, this is nirvana.
All past, present, and future Buddhas live prajna paramita
And therefore attain anuttara-samyak-sambodhi.
Therefore know, prajna paramita is The great mantra, the vivid mantra,
The best mantra, the unsurpassable mantra;
It completely clears all pain—this is the truth, not a lie.
So set forth the Prajna Paramita Mantra,
Set forth this mantra and say:
Gaté! Gaté! Paragaté! Parasamgaté!
Bodhi svaha!
Prajna Heart Sutra.


Maka Hannya Haramita Shingyo

(The Heart of the Perfection of Great Wisdom Sutra)
Kan ji zai bo sa
gyo jin han-nya ha ra mi ta ji
sho ken go on kai ku
do is-sai ku yaku
sha ri shi
shiki fu i ku
ku fu i shiki
shiki soku ze ku
ku soku ze shiki
ju so gyo shiki
yaku bu nyo ze
sha ri shi
ze sho ho ku so
fu sho fu metsu
fu ku fu jo
fu zo fu gen
ze ko ku chu
mu shiki mu ju so gyo shiki
mu gen ni bi zes-shin ni
mu shiki sho ko mi soku ho
mu gen kai nai shi mu i shiki kai
mu mu myo yaku mu mu myo jin
nai shi mu ro shi
yaku mu ro shi jin
mu ku shu metsu do
mu chi yaku mu toku
i mu sho tok-ko
bo dai sat-ta
e han-nya ha ra mi ta ko
shin mu kei ge
mu kei ge ko
mu u ku fu
on ri is-sai ten do mu so
ku gyo ne han
san ze sho butsu
e han-nya ha ra mi ta ko
toku a noku ta ra san myaku san bo dai
ko chi han-nya ha ra mi ta
ze dai jin shu
ze dai myo shu
ze mu jo shu
ze mu to do shu
no jo is-sai ku
shin jitsu fu ko
ko setsu han-nya ha ra mi ta shu
soku setsu shu watsu
gya tei gya tei
ha ra gya tei
hara so gya tei
bo ji sowa ka
han-nya shin gyo

Identity of Relative and Absolute

The mind of the Great Sage of India
Is intimately conveyed west and east.
Among human beings are wise ones and fools;
In the Way there is no teacher of north and south.
The subtle Source is clear and bright;
The branching streams flow in the dark.
To be attached to things is primordial illusion;
To encounter the absolute is not yet enlightenment.
All spheres, every sense and field,
intermingle even as they shine alone.
Interacting even as they merge,
Yet keeping their places in expressions of their own.
Forms differ primally in shape and character
And sounds in harsh or soothing tones.
The dark makes all words one;
The brightness distinguishes good and bad phrases.
The four elements return to their true nature,
As a child to its mother.
Fire is hot, water is wet,
Wind moves and the earth is dense.
Eye and form, ear and sound, nose and smell,
Tongue and taste, the sweet and sour:
Each independent of the other
Like leaves that come from the same root.
And though roots and leaves must go back to the Source,
Both root and leaves have their own uses.
Light is also darkness,
But do not move with it as darkness.
Darkness is light;
Do not see it as light.
Light and darkness are not one, not two,
Like the foot before and the foot behind in walking.
Each thing has its own being,
Which is not different from its place and function.
The relative fits the absolute,
As a box and its lid.
The absolute meets the relative,
Like two arrows that meet in mid air.
Hearing this, simply perceive the Source,
Impose no standards.
If you do not see the Way,
You do not see it even as you walk on it.
When you walk the way you draw no nearer,
Progress no farther.
Who fails to see this
Is mountains and rivers away.
Listen, those who would pierce this subtle matter:
Do not waste your time by night or day!

Guidepost for Silent Illumination

Silent and serene, forgetting words,
bright clarity appears before you.
When you reflect it you become vast,
where you embody it you are spiritually uplifted.
Solitary and shining, inner illumination restores wonder.

Dew in the moonlight, a river of stars,
snow-covered pines, clouds enveloping the peak.
In darkness it is most bright,
while hidden all the more manifest.
The crane dreams in the wintery mists.
The autumn waters flow far in the distance.
Endless kalpas are totally empty, all things completely the same.
When wonder exists in serenity,
all achievement is forgotten in illumination.

What is this wonder?
Alertly seeing through confusion is the way of silent illumination
and the origin of subtle radiance.
Vision penetrating into subtle radiance is weaving gold on a jade loom.
Upright and inclined yield to each other;
light and dark are interdependent.
Not depending on sense faculty and object,
at the right time they interact.

Drink the medicine of good views.
Beat the poisoned-smeared drum.
When they interact, killing and giving life are up to you.
Through the gate the self emerges and the branches bear fruit.

Only silence is the supreme speech,
only illumination the universal response.
Responding without falling into achievement,
speaking without involving listeners,
the ten thousand forms majestically glisten and expound the dharma.
All objects certify it, each one in dialogue.
Conversing and certifying,
they respond appropriately to each other;
but if illumination neglects serenity,
then aggressiveness appears.
Certifying and conversing they respond to each other appropriately;
but if serenity neglects illumination,
murkiness leads to wasted dharma.

When silent illumination is fulfilled,
the lotus blossoms, the dreamer awakens.
A hundred streams flow into the ocean,
a thousand ranges face the highest peak.
Like geese preferring milk, like bees gathering nectar,
when silent illumination reaches the ultimate, I offer my teaching.

The teaching of silent illumination penetrates from the highest
down to the foundation.
The body being shunyata, the arms in mudra,
From the beginning to end the changing appearances and ten thousand differences
share one pattern.
Even a gift of precious jade has its flaws.
Facing changes has its principles,
the great function is without striving.
The ruler stays in the kingdom,
the general goes beyond the frontiers.

Our school's affair hits the mark straight and true.
Transmit it in all directions without desiring to gain recognition.



We use the same translations as our mother temple, Zen Center of Los Angeles.


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